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IFP wants probe into whether Zuma misled Parly over Sassa deductions

With Zuma answering questions from MPs in the National Assembly for the first time this year, the crisis around the Sassa grants debacle came into sharp focus.

FILE: President Jacob Zuma. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN – The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) wants an investigation into whether President Jacob Zuma misled Parliament when he denied knowledge of illegal deductions from social grants.

Answering questions from Members of Parliament (MPs) in the National Assembly on Thursday for the first time this year, the crisis around the South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) grants debacle came into sharp focus, leading to often heated exchanges.

Zuma was tackled on the question of money for airtime and electricity being siphoned off grants to the neediest people in the country by an IFP MP and United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa.

The Economic Freedom Fighters boycotted the sitting.

Zuma insisted he was unaware of the illegal deductions.

“We are not saying these companies did not siphon money, I don’t know about that.”

IFP MP Mkhuleko Hlengwa read back to him what he told the House a year ago.

“You said the following and I quote: “Yes, illegal deductions from these accounts from Sassa beneficiaries are on the increase”

Hlengwa has called for action: “You come and deny that. I put it to you madam Speaker, please investigate the president, whether he has not today right now misled Parliament.”

Holomisa was made to withdraw after accusing Zuma of lying.

WATCH: #Sassa: Zuma slams DA’s ‘funny democracy’

AVOIDING HARD QUESTIONS

Zuma also deflected questions about whether he planned to take action against Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini, saying it’s “a funny democracy” to punish someone if you suspect they’re about to commit a crime.

The Inkatha Freedom Party’s Liezl van der Merwe got a “no” from President Zuma when she asked for an inquiry into the grant payments contract and illegal deductions from accounts a year ago.

“So I’m asking you now, will you also take personal responsibility for this crisis? Will you now establish a commission of inquiry into this dodgy deal? There’s a rumour in the ANC caucus that CPS is paying for Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma’s campaign and I want you to comment on that.”

Zuma said she brought no evidence to back her claims.

“We are not saying these companies did not syphon money, I don’t know about that. If you know, those are facts that you’ve got to support – to say these are the things that have happened and, therefore, we need investigation. I don’t think you can include that about the political statement of people who are being supported because they’re going to elections, you actually dilute your question.”

Zuma’s denied knowledge of his lawyer Michael Hulley’s alleged involvement in the grants contract.

ACTION AGAINST DLAMINI?

Regarding Dlamini, Zuma added: “To act as if 1 April has come and pensioners’ grants have not been given and therefore you must take action, I’m saying it’s a funny democracy that says punish a person before they commit a mistake.”

He turned to DA leader Mmusi Maimane.

“It’s almost like the rule of the jungle. I get onto you as soon as I suspect you’re about to commit a crime, then you’re punished, no sir, I disagree [because] there is no crisis.”

However, Maimane fired back.

“A sitting Finance Minister is doing their job, they get fired for a pretentious job and a number of years later, a minister who is not doing their job gets protected by you. And you come to Parliament to defend the minister who is completely incompetent. It can’t be… That’s funny democracy.”

But Zuma would have none of it.

“I don’t understand why you think this president must evaluate as soon as there is a commotion. It can’t be.”

(Edited by Leeto M Khoza)